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Thinking About Giving Money to Adult Children? Think Again


But even then, parents should do a little due diligence first.

“You have to be careful not to be taken advantage of by a child,” said Les Kotzer, a wills and estates lawyer at Fish & Associates in Thornhill, Ontario, and co-author of four books and an audiobook on wills, including “The Wills Lawyers: Their Stories of Money, Inheritance, Greed, Family and Betrayal.”

In an interview and in his book, Mr. Kotzer recounted the story of an older couple whose only child had a college degree in geology but struggled to find work. Even after taking a job in a small mining town hundreds of miles away, the son continued asking his parents for money to cover housing costs, prescriptions for illnesses he said he and his wife had, and bills related to their disabled child.

But years later, when the elderly parents were finally able to make their first — surprise — visit to the town, they were shocked to discover a lavish, well-furnished home, shiny new cars in the driveway and a live-in nanny, who told them the couple was in Puerto Rico for a 10-day cruise. The young parents were healthy, both had high-paying jobs and their child was not disabled. The parents felt duped and immediately cut their son out of their will, Mr. Kotzer said.

Experts see some needs, like education, as a compelling area for giving money to children. Paying for college tuition can be an investment in a child’s long-term employment future, Mr. Kotzer said.

But how should parents handle the growing number of young people, especially millennials, who are staying home longer, marrying later — if at all — and relying on their parents for free rent, food and car insurance?

“It is creating a dependency,” Ms. Baltz cautioned.

Experts advise parents not to allow their adult children to live rent-free without any deadline and not to pay an allowance without any strings attached.


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